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Hunter Biden appears on Hill, doesn’t appear at deposition

House Republicans say they will start contempt of Congress proceedings against the president’s son

Hunter Biden, left, the son of President Joe Biden, and his lawyer Abbe Lowell, are seen after a news conference Wednesday outside the Capitol about Hunter testifying publicly to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
Hunter Biden, left, the son of President Joe Biden, and his lawyer Abbe Lowell, are seen after a news conference Wednesday outside the Capitol about Hunter testifying publicly to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans said they would start contempt of Congress proceedings against Hunter Biden after he did not appear Wednesday morning for a closed-door deposition, with the president’s son coming to Capitol Hill to instead challenge the lawmakers to hold a public hearing.

Instead of complying with a subpoena, Biden spoke to reporters outside the Senate side of the Capitol building and attacked Republicans for their attacks on his character. He walked away immediately after speaking and did not answer shouted questions from the press.

“Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry or hear what I have to say. What are they afraid of? I’m here. I’m ready,” the younger Biden said.

Over in a House office building, Republicans who insisted Hunter Biden show up spoke to reporters gathered near to where the deposition was scheduled to take place.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James R. Comer, R-Ky., said they were clear that they wanted a closed-door deposition and then would be happy to have a public hearing.

And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, implied that speeches and lawmaker filibusters could take a public hearing off course if it was held now.

“You’re going to get all kinds of things. What we want is the facts,” Jordan said.

Comer and Jordan issued a statement characterizing the nonappearance as obstruction by Hunter Biden.

“Hunter Biden today defied lawful subpoenas and we will now initiate contempt of Congress proceedings,” the lawmakers said. “We will not provide special treatment because his last name is Biden.”

House Republicans have for months sought to link Hunter Biden’s business dealings with his father as part of a wide-ranging probe into alleged influence peddling from the younger Biden while President Joe Biden was in private life as well as vice president.

The House was scheduled to vote Wednesday on launching a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden through a resolution that references committee probes into Hunter Biden’s business dealings. Then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the impeachment inquiry earlier this year.

Republicans argue that the younger Biden was asking for special treatment in avoiding a deposition, but an attorney for Hunter Biden has said that a public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts and one-sided press statements.

At the media appearance, the younger Biden slammed Republicans, saying they have impugned his character, invaded his privacy and attacked his family and friends.

“They have ridiculed my struggle with addiction, they’ve belittled my recovery and they have tried to dehumanize me — all to embarrass and damage my father, who has devoted his entire public life to service,” Hunter Biden said.

The subpoena showdown comes at a legally sensitive time for Hunter Biden: He’s been indicted on federal tax charges, and in a separate case charged with three gun-related offenses.

Prosecutors allege a Hunter Biden scheme to avoid paying more than $1 million in income taxes from 2016 through 2019.

Wednesday’s noncompliance from Hunter Biden ignited another round of partisan clashes over the legitimacy of the Republican allegations. Democrats argued there’s no evidence that connects Hunter Biden’s business dealings to any offense by the president.

“President Biden has done nothing wrong,” Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said. “They have not laid a glove on President Biden and they have no evidence of him committing any offense, much less an impeachable offense.”

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